"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. Its aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are mostly from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa, Florida area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This twelfth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "This Strange Time Of Transition" has been made available to us
by a very good Bible teacher, Paul Mueller. This article provided by Brother
Paul helps us better understand our transition to a
new era. His early ministry was spent in missionary work in Ghana and Nigeria from 1953 - 1963. He has held pastoral positions in Portland and California and has been writing the 'Living Word' publication for over 25 years with his wife Emily's assistance. They reside in Portland, OR.
II. "God's Duty - Both Just And Merciful" addresses a challenging and often misunderstood subject. Most Christians today fail to reconcile the attributes of God's mercy and His justice, as if there is tension and schism between them. This article attempts to provide an answer to this topic.
III. "Our Confirmation Hearings" comes from an excellent writer of
present truth, Terry Crisp. His
article gives us wonderful insight regarding the confirmation of our high calling. Brother Terry
and his wife Tykie has made their residence in Southwest (Dawson), GA. They publish monthly
messages on the kingdom of God.
IV. "Dying Yet Living" comes from a close friend and good teacher
of the scriptures, Romeo Corsini.
He writes an excellent article on the difference between being led by the flesh and led by the Spirit. He writes and teaches kingdom truth messages, drawing from his extensive background
of several languages including Italian, Greek, Turkish, French, English, Spanish and Latin. He
and his wife Christine and three little girls reside in Brandon (Tampa), FL.
V. "A Brief History Of The Church (1500 AD - Present)" comes again
from both friend and church history scholar, Dr. Jack Jacobsen. Brother Jack
continues to guide us through highlights of the history of the church in this
third of three articles. He and his wife Marjorie have recently
taken residence in New Port Richey, FL. They are active in ministry in the area.
VI. "A Servant" is given by Morida Yex and is a tribute to her father
and his servitude to the Lord.
Morida and her husband Chuck are very close friends who live in the Orlando (St. Cloud), FL .
Chuck has provided the art work for past ARISE journals.
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We pray you are stimulated by the articles provided in this edition of the ARISE journal. Our purpose is to provide fresh insight of present truth which will encourage and challenge each reader to progress in the knowledge of our Lord.
I am happy to announce the wonderful news of my wife's pregnancy. Surely, we have found grace in the eyes of the Lord as He has opened her womb. We anticipate the birth in early May. Praise the Lord!
In His Service
Timothy D. and Melissa Carroll
"A R I S E" is free to all as God's way is "Freely you have
received, freely give". We trust God to lay it upon the hearts of those
He chooses to provide the means for printing and sending out this journal. The
mailing address is listed on the front cover for those interested in receiving
the journal on a regular basis. Additional copies are available upon request.
Notification of change of address is appreciated.
This Strange Time Of Transition
This present time is what we call a time of transition. It is a time of progression and transition when the world is passing through the distress and travail that is common to the ending of one age and the beginning of the new. This time of transition and progression will indeed be very strange. It will be a time of much change and of the shakings of everything that can be shaken. Everything everywhere is changing as the Lord shakes and removes all that speaks of the old order and brings forth that which pertains to the new. Although we may experience some difficulties because of the necessary changes, we will grow spiritually and will rejoice in the end result.
As the shaking of all things continues, we shall come to know the Lord as our refuge. He is a very present help in time of trouble. (Ps. 46:1-3) We will not fear what shall take place in the earth, for the river of Life flows into the city of God where we abide. We are citizens of that heavenly city. God is in our midst, and though the great shaking of all things continue, we shall not be moved. Notice this passage: "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High." (Ps. 46:4) The word "tabernacles" is given in the plural to show that this is a reference to individual believers. We are the tabernacles of God, according to the word of the Lord. (See II Cor. 5:4, II Pe. 1:13-14, I Cor. 3:16-17, 6:19) The refreshing river of the life of Christ now flows throughout the city of God. He flows from tabernacle to tabernacle, or from life to life, until all the tabernacles which we are, are filled with His enriching presence. All who are the habitation of God through the Spirit are now partaking of this river of life by which we are being delivered from the vexation of the world, and are being lifted from one realm to a higher realm, and from glory to glory, by that same Spirit.
This is indeed a strange time of transition. It is a time of constant changes everywhere. The changes we are now witnessing are signaling the beginning of an age of good things, when the righteousness, peace, joy, justice and love of God shall prevail among men. This strange time of transition is a time of divine correction. It is a time when all that is contrary to the spirit and purpose of the kingdom of God is being revealed so that those contrary forces may eventually be removed to make way for His kingdom. The changes we are seeing are part of the shaking of all things that can be shaken until we may wonder if there is anything permanent anywhere. The writer to the Hebrews said that the Lord once shook the earth, and then declared, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:26-29)
We are now in that strange time of transition when the Lord is shaking everything that can be shaken. All that is the result of man's efforts, man's works, or man's carnal mind shall be shaken down to nothing. This includes all man's systems, whether religious, political-governmental, or economic. Then the kingdom of God shall arise from the ashes of the old things of the past. We have no control over the present shakings or what is being shaken, for the Lord is doing the work. He is moving in the earth in a very sovereign way to accomplish His eternal purposes, and to bring forth His kingdom. That which cannot be shaken shall remain. Only that which is of the creation of God shall stand to become the basis for the pure and righteous kingdom of God. As everything around us is being shaken, we are receiving the kingdom of God which cannot be shaken. We also are serving the Lord acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Our high calling during this brief time of transition thus requires that we continue receiving the kingdom of God, with all the principles and truth of our King, and hold fast to His grace. This is not a time to be slothful, lethargic, or indifferent. The times demand that we be spiritually alert, awake and aware, and that we be found occupying until His appearing. During this strange time, we will cling to Christ, serving God according to His will and purpose with godly fear, knowing that our God is a consuming fire, and that He will burn away all that does not come from His pure mind.
One doesn't need to be a prophet to see that things are changing, and that God is bringing forth a new order with a two-fold manifestation. On one hand, He is raising His elect to a new and higher realm of spiritual life. On the other hand, He is bringing judgment upon all unrighteousness so that others might know that He is Lord. The prophet described this time with a clear word from the Lord. He said, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." (Is. 60:1-2) This is an era of contrasts. A great Light, even the Light of Christ, is shining upon the Lord's chosen ones so that His glory is upon us. In Father's appointed hour, that Light shall be seen upon us in a manifestation of His glory that will reveal the Christ of God to many others. But it is also true of this hour that darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people. The Light of Christ is now shining on the elect during this time of darkness. When the Lord's purposes are fulfilled in this brief time of darkness, the Christ body will arise in the earth, and the Light within them shall dispel the gross darkness in the world.
Redemption, even the fulness of redemption for the elect, will be the result of this time of the day of the Lord. The burning, purging, fiery presence of the Lord will bring corrective judgment upon the ungodly. But the elect will be brought to full salvation by the same fiery presence of Him who is their Redeemer and Savior. Then the two-fold purpose for this day shall be fulfilled, as it is written, "For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come." (Is. 63:4) During the intense shakings of this time of transition, we will know that the Lord is our hope, and will experience the greater glory of His dwelling place in Zion. All who dwell in Zion with Him shall be holy, for they are free of the power and influence of the man of sin. No strangers shall be there, but only those who are fully redeemed. This time of the day of the Lord has a two-fold purpose. On the one hand it is "the day of vengeance of our God." (Is. 61:2) The Lord is exposing sin and unrighteousness during this day of His vengeance to bring corrective judgment upon the ungodly. Through the distress of trials and tribulation, as well as other tests, the Lord is preparing the world for the coming of His kingdom to the earth. Not only is this the day of the Lord's vengeance, it also is the time of the fulness of redemption for the elect.
It is highly significant that when Jesus read Isaiah's prophecy in the synagogue in Nazareth, He read only a portion of the prophecy of Is. 61:1-3. (see Lu. 4:18-20) After reading to the beginning of Is. 61:2, which is, "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord," Jesus closed the book, and then said to the assembled worshippers, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Only that portion of Isaiah's prophecy was to be declared at that time. But now, in this present hour, the time has come to read the next phrase of that prophecy, which states, "and the day of vengeance of our God" (Is. 61:2) This is the hour when the Spirit is directing us to declare "the day of vengeance of our God," and also to proclaim, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." This present time of the day of the Lord has another purpose. It is to raise His chosen ones up to full salvation in resurrection power and glory. Not only is this "the day of vengeance of our God," it is also "the year of my redeemed." The prophet identified this time as having this two-fold purpose. (Is. 63:4) Just as we may boldly declare this time as the day of the Lord's vengeance, so do we declare "the year of my redeemed is come." A holy awe fills my spirit and mind when I think of the tremendous possibilities of this strange time of transition. This is a day like no other in the history of the world. The Lord has taken to Himself His great power, and is reigning in a way we have not seen before. It is the day of the Lord's vengeance upon all disobedience, but it is also the year of His redeemed. His corrective judgments are in the earth, and when those judgments are fulfilled, many shall learn His righteousness. And we shall "be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."
Those who travail and mourn and who have the spirit of heaviness are the elect who have understanding of the times and seasons in God, and who discern the Lord's purposes for this hour. They see the coming glory of the kingdom of God, and how far removed we are from God's purposes for this glorious Day. The elect are travailing to be born again of the Spirit - to be changed into His likeness. It is to these elect that the Lord directed the prophetic word given through Isaiah. Those who mourn in Zion shall be comforted in their mourning, and shall be appointed, designated and commissioned as rulers in the kingdom of God. To them shall be given beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the royal garment of His praises for their spirit of heaviness. God shall give us new garments of His Life in exchange for these old bodies of flesh and blood that are bound and fettered with the carnalties of old Adam. The translators of the Amplified Version properly described the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the elect at this time. This day of vengeance of our God is also the time, "to comfort all who mourn; To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion, to give them an ornament - a garland or diadem - of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened and failing spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." We are becoming those strong trees of His righteousness for His glory. And as we continue growing spiritually, we shall become all that He is.
All that was destroyed in the earth by man's misrule and mismanagement will be restored by those righteous, transformed saints who are in union with Christ. "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord; men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches (the wealth) of the Gentiles (nations), and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves." (Is. 61:4-6) What a glorious day that will be when the elect are anointed and empowered to bring full restoration to the earth, and all creation! And all our past and present tests and trials were ordained of the Lord to prepare us for this great Day!
Jesus taught the principles of the kingdom of God. He took His disciples up into a mountain away from the clamoring multitudes and taught them, saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Mt. 5:3-12) The principles of the kingdom are now being taught and imparted to the saints who shall be a part of that royal Christ body who shall rule and reign with Him. All that Jesus said is coming to pass in our lives now. We are poor in spirit, not because of fear and discouragement, but because the Lord has taken from us all of man's carnal ability, pride and ego. (Is. 2:10-22) Our only hope is in Christ and His fulness. The words of Jesus minister hope and life to us, for He said, "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." To those who mourn because of the abominations being committed today, His promise is, "they shall be comforted." To the meek who rest in the Lord's grace and mercy, and who wait for His appointed hour, the promise is, "they shall inherit the earth."
Jesus promised the kingdom and all its benefits to those who have been delivered of the ways of man. In an hour when many Christians are turning to the corrupt systems of man to find the solution to the problems in the world, the elect are turning to the Lord. He is the only answer to the world's problems! In a day when the worldly minded are bent on satisfying their own personal desires and ambitions, the elect are hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The word of the Lord to them is, "they shall be filled." To those who are merciful, the promise is, "they shall obtain mercy." If there is any one divine attribute I seek for, it is the mercy of the Lord. O how we need His mercy! To those without the guile and deception of man, His promise is, "they shall see God." The peacemakers in the kingdom, "shall be called the children of God." To those who are persecuted because of their righteousness and not because of their own foolishness or iniquities, the Lord promised, "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." And all who are persecuted and reviled as the prophets of old were are told to "rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven."
These precious ones who trust the Lord and Him only are "the salt of the earth." (Mt. 5:13) They are the Life-force by which the kingdom of God is beginning to be manifest in the earth to change the world for good. As salt flavors the entire pot, so shall the elect affect the whole world by the power of the Christ within. They are "the light of the world," and are becoming that "city that is set on an hill." (Mt. 5:14) The light of this city shall show forth the good works of this company so that those who see it shall glorify our Father. Though the darkness of the worldly order of man surrounds us, the Light and glory of Christ is now shining in our hearts. And His Light within us is now shining out of us to begin to dispel all the darkness in the world and initiate the glorious age of the kingdom of God on earth. This is the Day of His power and glory! The will of God shall be done on earth as it is being done in the heavens. Therefore, let us ARISE out of the darkness and distress of man and let us shine with the glory of His Light!
God's Duty - Both Just And Merciful
Do you believe that God is just? By which I mean, one who acts as our Judge? Equally I ask, do you believe that God is merciful? By which I mean, one who acts with deeds of loving kindness and pity? According to many of the doctrines prevailing in Christendom today, there is opposition between mercy and justice. Basically they would have us believe that justice is the punishment of sin without the slightest hint of mercy. Likewise, mercy is the forgiveness of sin without the least indication of correction. They attribute both to God, making a schism to His very character and nature.
But there is perhaps no thought stressed as strongly in holy script than God's duty as being both just and merciful. I am reminded of the words of Jesus when he said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children...". If man is capable of doing good to their children, then how much more capable than man is God! He is much more capable of doing good than man, He is not less. His thoughts are not the thoughts of man nor are His ways. I would even dare to say that more is required of God than man. And why shouldn't there be, after all, He as Creator has a sense of obligation towards His own creation. Therefore, His duty must be much higher and more of goodness than ours is or shall be.
This brings us to the question: what then truly is meant by His justice and mercy? I think all reading so far would agree that the answer should be found in the Bible. And indeed, it is found there. But only with careful examination and a complete reverence to the Lord can it be discovered. In our search for truth and none other, our minds must be rid of the opinions of so-called religion. We must train ourselves to discard past theories and learn afresh by sitting at the feet of the Master. We must with a broken spirit and contrite heart draw nigh for the place whereon God dwells is forever holy and always righteous.
First of all, we find in scripture that mercy belongs to the Lord. The psalmist helps us to see this with his words, "Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work". (Ps. 62:12). The word 'mercy' in Hebrew is checed (gheh-sed) having the meaning: kindness, beauty, goodness or lovely. Now give close examination as to which characteristic the inspired psalmist attributed to the Lord when considering how He renders to every man according to their work. Was it the attribute of justice as is so commonly taught by preachers? No, it is rather one of mercy. The verse is very clear on this point, yet we would have some try to convince us that it should read justice. The Lord, out of mercy or loving kindness will answer every man! Praise the Lord!
Scripture is pregnant with words regarding the mercy of our Lord. A few examples include: His mercy is everlasting; great is His mercy towards me; He has granted us life and mercy; how excellent is thy mercy; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord; the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth; O satisfy us early with thy mercy; by mercy and truth iniquity is purged; the desire of a man is His mercy; according to His abundant mercy, according to His mercy He saved us, and of God that sheweth mercy.
Often, there is no difficulty for most to understand His mercy. Presumably, all reading this article have tasted of His grace and salvation, and therefore are familiar with His mercy. But what do we know of His justice? According to many, God on one hand is merciful, gracious, forgiving and long-suffering. Yet on the other hand they would that the same God is so severe and just, that it requires a never-ending, eternal death for those who have sinned and not repented in this life time. I appeal to your conscience and common sense with the question - 'are not these two sets of traits in conflict with one another?' Yet, the more I study the Bible the clearer it becomes that salvation is essentially linked with justice without any tension at all. They fully compliment one another, working hand in hand. To this point, even St. Basil the Great (330 A.D - 379 A.D) said, "Everywhere scripture connects God's justice (righteousness) with His compassions" (Ps. 116:5).
So, what then do we mean by justice? Permit me to answer two ways. First oft, normally one would think justice to mean that the proper penalty is paid to meet the crime or wrong that was committed. The judge who administers the penalty would be considered just if he acts in accordance to the law without any prejudice. If the law is right, it would set the sentence to punish the offender to fit the crime, no less and no more. However, I would argue that true and complete justice has not yet been done. The offender may have had justice done to him but what about the victim in whom the wrong was committed? Say it was a thief who had stolen my wallet.... Until my wallet and its contents are returned, I am truly not satisfied. Has justice been done to me? I am still a man that was wronged. Suppose the thief returns my wallet, am I now justified? Probably not, since I was still wronged. Now assume the thief repents and seeks my mercy, although he spent the contents of my wallet. He desires to make amends in whatever feeble way he can. It is at this point that I would say justice is truly complete and finally met. Why? Because the one who committed the offence has made up for it and only he alone. By having followed this simple illustration, we should be able to see that justice is not merely having the offender pay for the offence. Justice requires a complete restoring of all parties involved.
Permit me to draw a second illustration, this time from the instruction and wisdom of the apostle Paul. Let us turn to I Corinthians, chapter 5 and review the story. Here we find that a man in the church was in sin, even to the degree that there was not even a name for it among the Gentiles. Paul corrects the brethren at Corinth for not having mourned over nor corrected this man. He goes on to say that he has already passed sentence or judged the offender and then gives the formula for excommunication. Please note the qualifications prior to the removal of this brother. Verse 4 reads, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, ye being gathered together, also my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver up such a one to the Adversary (Satan) for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (I Cor. 5:4 YLT). The order is important and ought to be recognized. First, they had to be gathered in the nature of Jesus Christ before ever attempting to sit in judgment. Then, and only then, by the power of Christ were they to deliver such a one to Satan that his spirit may be saved.
This story is full of questions which are beyond our purpose of using it as an illustration. Suffice it to say, it is about a Christian man among the church who was caught up in a terrible sin and had not repented. Paul tells the Church that they are to judge the situation. The judgment was to take place only with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is also to be present in spirit. Therefore, it was a sentence by Jesus, Paul and the Church to deliver this man to Satan for his destruction. And for what intent I ask? Was the sentence for his utter destruction? Was he to be lost forever? No, this punishment was not his final sentence. This judgment had salvation in view. Thus are all of God's judicial acts. They are not vindictive, without any consideration for the welfare of those involved, but are of such a nature as to correct the evil.
Two examples, both having illustrated that punishment does not mean justice. It may have a part in the act of judgment, however it is not justice in itself. As students of the Bible, we often read that the punishment of sin is often exercised. Yet, we should not deny the many facts that it leads to the redemption of a man from the very power of sin.
Much that the Bible says about God's justice has been grossly misunderstood, and has, over time, become a theology and tradition of man, influencing the ideas of the way many think of God. And to believe a lie against His character is to be against God, not for Him. So what do we find in scripture regarding justice? First of all, divine justice is always right. Moses helps us to see this with his words, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25). The word 'right' in Hebrew is mishpat having the meaning: verdict, sentence, discretion, determination, manner, right or judgment. The verse could have just as easily read, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justice?". In other words, Abraham knew that God would not permit anyone to suffer unjustly, else that would not be judgment (right). There is never injustice in divine judgment. The justice of God is that He gives every man, woman, child and creature a fair verdict. It involves a God who cares, and tries to help the one guilty of the sin. The wrong-doing is always confronted with a righteous sentence. And if the Judge of all the earth is sentencing the person, then there would never be unjust or perverted judgment.
At a glance, it may appear that God's judgments should only be that of punishment, without any further intent, purpose or plan. Yet a closer survey of holy script would provide several illustrations which beg to differ. The book of Genesis provides the first account of a divine judgment. God, as Judge set the matter right after man had sinned in the garden. The final outcome was never final punishment. We ought to train ourselves to read "the rest of the story". Paul acknowledges that by one man's offence, death was sentenced upon all. However, we cannot stop with the judgment that came upon all men as the final verdict. "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Rm. 5:18).
Another exercise of divine judgment is found in the days of Noah as God saw the wickedness of man all upon the earth. As such, out of divine judgment, He sent the flood and spared only eight people. Now most reading this story would see the flood as the final sentence upon those that were in rebellion. Likewise, the manner in which God judged them is also viewed by some as having no mercy at all. Again, we ought to consider the entire counsel of the Bible before drawing a conclusion on a matter. Peter wrote, "By which (the Spirit) also he (Jesus) went and preached (ministered) unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah......." (I Pet. 3:19-20). The punishment (flood) was one of destruction. The final outcome was one of salvation. God, out of His mercy had rendered to every man according to their works. Out of His lovingkindness, He had spared them from doing one another any more harm. He wiped their wickedness away, never to be exercised again. He placed them in prisons of darkness until the time of their redemption.
Scripture is loaded with the linking of mercy and judgment. David was given a choice of being judged by either man or God. His experience with both led him to the conclusion, "....let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man" (I Chron. 21:13). Again we see judgment in the story of Job, yet the final outcome was "God hath taken away my judgment" (Job 34:5). The purpose of God's judgment is never to render evil for evil. Nor is it to simply make the offender suffer endlessly for their offence. God will punish to correct and remove any hindrance. At times, the punishment may be swift and severe, but when compared with the benefits that spring from it, we can only conclude that He does all things well.
God is a complete, integrated and unified being whose personality is a harmonious whole. There is no schism in His nature, no conflict in His person and no opposition in His character. Therefore, His attributes must also be in harmony with one another. Mercy or lovingkindness must be just in all of its way, or as some have said, JUST LOVE. Likewise, justice must be merciful in all of its way, or as said, LOVING JUSTICE. The idea that they conflict or never will merge and work together usually results when one tries to define these attributes in isolation from one another.
Love without justice is sentimentality and lacks character and backbone. It is weak and usually fails under pressure. It is that syrupy, lovey-dovey, namby-pamby person who just loves Jesus, everybody and everything. They love the red ants who just bit their baby, the teenage boy who raped their daughter, the insurance fraud who stole all of their grandparents' savings and the tree in their back yard whose roots are destroying the foundation of their newly built home!
Likewise, justice without love and any sense of compassion is usually distributed with hatred and is not designed to correct or restore and make right what was wrong. It is over-bearing and never forgiving. It is that hard, stone-faced, self-righteous person who judges everybody and everything. These are they who second and third guess every decision you make, always thinking themselves to be right. These are they who would judge that kind, old man down the street simply because he attends a different church. These are they who judge an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, sentencing a man to the electric chair. These are they who would cast the vast majority of God's creation to an eternal, never-ending place of torment and torture beyond the most cruel of imaginations of any beast.
I confess that I do not know how to best answer every argument one may have on this subject. Some may find an argument by developing a case by using the words of James, "For he shall have judgment without mercy...." (Jas. 2:13). To such, my answer may be feeble, yet it bears some truth. And that is, 'we ought not to simply look at the surface of the subject but rather ponder the essence behind it. For example, a death appears to be tragic, yet it serves as the pathway into life itself'. And besides, shouldn't we finish the verse, "....and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."
To close, I'd rather that men hold their opinion and theory on this subject until they have given it fair and thorough consideration. Suffice it to say, it is a dangerous thing to lay any other burden on the shoulders of men and women than the yoke of our true Master, our Lord Jesus Christ. My conclusion after careful examination is in accord with the words of Paul, that God has shut up all men in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all!
Our Confirmation Hearings
Daniel 7:22..."and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the Kingdom..."
No doubt all over the world, but especially here in the United States, it seems that the public at large has acquired a very unusual, and, shall we say, somewhat abnormal interest in the subject of judgment. In case you haven't noticed over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the ratings of both locally broadcasted and nationally televised court proceedings, to the point that many of the characters involved have become as popular as soap opera stars, and in some cases, otherwise average and ordinary judges have been elevated to celebrity status by the media. The wrangling back and forth of prosecution and defense, their twisting, turning, and manipulation of witnesses, and their many theatrical exhibitions and presentations, have turned this into one of the fastest growing sports in the world! While we will have to admit that a great many people have learned something from the legal aspect in all of this (though we dare say that one will never come to understand true judgment simply by studying "the trial of the century", or by watching Judge Wapner's court), we believe the main lesson has been that even at best, the present system of judgment is faulty. (This message is obviously coming through loud and clear. According to a recent poll taken by U.S News & World Report, a whopping 85% of Americans feel that there is a serious inequality of judgment in our courts). Regardless of the judicious genius of the judge, the fact remains that they are oftentimes deceived, and justice fails to be served. Every day, criminals still avoid conviction because of their seemingly "honest" demeanors, their "slick" lawyers, or some legal technicality. Corrupt judges or district attorneys, who are routinely paid off for judicial "favors" have become commonplace; and quite often, innocent people go to prison because of the testimony of false witnesses and/or evidence. And as you well may know, even jury cases can end up with wrong verdicts, depending on the way that information is presented to it's members, or because of social, racial, or political implications. Yet, with all of it's weaknesses, with all of it's mistakes, folks are still intrigued by the entire process; they cannot seem to get enough of it!
Strangely enough, we believe that God is somehow behind this peculiar phenomena. It is our persuasion that He is responsible for generating this public interest (though not necessarily for the way it affects certain people!) And why? Because He is preparing this world for a new order of judgment; an order that shall be unlike anything it has seen before! He is about to introduce the most unusual body of judges ever to stand upon this earth, who have been specially prepared for such a time as this! The difference with them will be that they will not make their judgments according to "the seeing of the eyes, or the hearing of the ears" (that is, by external evidence, or the witness of the senses), and they will not make rulings based on personal advantage or favoritism, but will judge with righteous judgment! This, and this alone, is what the whole creation is earnestly groaning for (Rom. 8:19); and this, alone, will cause it to rejoice!
CONFIRMED...AND BEING CONFIRMED
Recently, while reading through the opening lines of I Corinthians for a study we have been developing, the Lord quickened something to our spirits, which we would briefly like to share with you. It is found in the first chapter, verses 4-9: "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who will also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord".
Without going into great detail or background on this passage, we would have you to notice two things: first, the fact that the testimony, or witness of Christ has already been confirmed in us (which allows us to make certain judgments as the Spirit enables); and secondly, that we are now going through what we could rightly term as a confirmation process, which shall be fulfilled by the end of this present age. In other words, we might say that at the moment, because we have received the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we have already been confirmed "in part" to a certain place of judgment prepared for us (in the "gift" realm of utterance and knowledge); but there is coming an hour (which we feel is nigh upon us), when we shall be finally and completely confirmed in our calling, and irrevocably established in our positions in Him! Another way we could say this is that currently we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6); and as such, we have been designated limited jurisdiction in the various affairs of life, as the Spirit gives us understanding and utterance. But then, we shall sit down with Him in His throne, where we shall have absolute authority over every area of God's vast creation! (Rev. 3:21) At such a time, we shall be perfectly qualified to fulfill the ministry God has reserved for us from the foundation of the world, viz., ministry of judgment and reconciliation of all things! What a glorious destiny we have!
This calls to our minds an interesting allegory. In order for one to sit on the United States Supreme Court, two things have to happen. First, the individual has to be appointed by the President, and second, he or she has to be confirmed by the Congress. But how does this come about? Well, usually, the nominee will have worked his or her way up the judicial ladder, serving as Federal judge, law professor, etc., and in the process, acquired a good understanding of the way the legal system works. They will have demonstrated their ability to accurately apply the law in varying circumstances, and displayed outstanding qualities of discretion and discernment which clearly set them apart from their colleagues. Whenever a seat becomes available on the Court, these unique achievements and accreditations are brought to the attention of the President, who takes them all into consideration (most generally, his approval is based on how well the judgments and opinions of the one considered will support his own policies). Then, when once his decision is made, there is a public announcement of it. Immediately following this, the appointee enters into what is known as confirmation hearings, where he or she is carefully scrutinized for judgmental discrepancies, inconsistencies, or anything else that might disqualify them for the position.
If you have ever witnessed one of these hearings on T.V., you know how demanding they can be. They rarely leave one stone unturned! But why is the examination so intense? And why do they probe so deeply? Because of the seriousness of the position. It must be remembered that the decisions rendered by these judges, and their interpretations of Constitutional law can effect the lives of millions of people for a great number of years. And the tenures of Supreme Court judges are lifelong. That is to say, once they have been confirmed to the high bench, and are privileged to don the reverential black robe, they may abide as long as they live (the only stipulation is that they continue "in good behavior"). It matters not who may agree or disagree with their opinions after that; and it matters not how popular or unpopular they become; they are there for the duration!
If you have eyes enlightened by the Spirit, then surely you can see a pattern here. Is this not similar to the procedure Jesus went through? In His infancy, we know that He was confirmed in a limited capacity by the prophetic utterance of Simeon. This is when He first began His ascent up the heavenly "judicial ladder"; when He first began to acquire divine wisdom and discretion for judgment (that is, in His earthly form). This was attested to in Scripture, where it records that "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him " (Lk. 2:40). Some time later, at twelve years of age, He gave evidence of a further confirmation, when He astounded the learned rabbis in the temple with a wisdom and judgment which far exceeded His (or their) years (verses 41-51). This was followed by another statement, "And Jesus increased (or advanced) in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (verse 52). Then, at the river Jordan, as the heavens were opened, we see that He was publicly appointed by the Father, no doubt, before crowds of witnesses on both sides of the veil. My, what a tremendous moment this must have been! It was immediately following this that He was led of the Spirit to the wilderness, where He encountered His "confirmation hearings". For forty days, He was tempted, challenged, and questioned in all points, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). And once He had been sorely tested and tried in every area, having His motives and intentions thoroughly examined under pressure, He donned the white robe of righteousness, and came forth in the power of the Spirit! Hallelujah! From that moment on, not only did He reach the top of the ladder...HE BECAME THE LADDER! (Jn. 1:51) He represented forever more the Way by which God's holy messengers would ascend into the heavenly sphere, and retrieve revelations of righteous judgment for the inhabitants of the earth!
That God had highly exalted Him was clearly evident to those who heard Him. The wisdom of His mouth, and the judgments which He declared were obviously on a higher order, from a divine source. But if there were any doubts at all, just listen to His own testimony: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him... Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man... I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" (Jn. 5:22-23, 25-27, 30). This, dear friend, was the basis of His authority; AS HE HEARD FROM THE FATHER, HE MADE HIS DETERMINATIONS. He was completely surrendered to the will of the Spirit, and abandoned to His cause! This is why His judgments never fell to the ground! They were 100% accurate, EVERY SINGLE TIME! Because of this, men everywhere knew that He had been confirmed in His calling! Therefore, let demons rage, and the wicked wail! And let the righteous rejoice! Jesus was both appointed and anointed as CHIEF JUSTICE...and He remains upon the Throne unto this very day! Praise God!
AN UNIMPEACHABLE STATE
Now, concerning the wilderness experience (as it pertains to us), you have no need that we should write unto you. With so much written on the subject these days, to elaborate greatly would only be redundant. We are all quite familiar with it by now, anyway. It should be apparent to all who read these lines that as Jesus gave us this example, we should follow in His steps. If in His journey to perfection He advanced from judgment to judgment, we must do the same. If He was forced to endure His confirmation hearings in the wilderness, we shall certainly do likewise, if we are to be like Him. There is no way around it; the process is inevitable. Remember, He is the Ladder to the Throne! But isn't it good to know that there is a purpose in the probing? Isn't it comforting to be reminded from time to time that all of this is not for naught? Sometimes in the press of things, we lose sight of this. Nevertheless, we can be assured that our Lord is working all things according to the counsel of His own will. He is preparing His own "Supreme Court" justices in the nitty-gritty of everyday life, that He through them might restore balance and equity to His troubled creation! Beloved, that should get you to movin'!
There is one last thing we will mention here; and then we will be through. Previously, we commented lightly on the fact that those who reside on the Supreme Court may do so, as long as they abide "in good behavior". This is specified in the Constitution, and is strictly enforced. However, with God's program, this stipulation is unnecessary. You see, He is dealing with the behavior problem now, before we ever reach the Throne! He is purging out every root of self-will and rebellion from our lives, before we are ever sworn in! As we learned from our passage in I Cor. 1:4-9, He shall confirm us unto the end, "that we might be blameless in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ". This word, "blameless", carries greater weight when translated from the original. It means, "unimpeachable", and is so rendered in the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. As most of you know, impeachment is a means by which public officials are removed from office. We derive this word in English via the French word, "empecher", and ultimately from the Latin, "impedicare", which means, "to tie the feet together; to fetter, entangle, or ensnare". It speaks of hindering or preventing, and was commonly associated with those terms, until perhaps the late 1700's. Anyway, we think you get the general idea. To be unimpeachable would be to enter into a state where one could not be hindered, could not be entangled or ensnared, and where one could not be removed from office. It would bespeak a realm of life "against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22-23); a place of perfection in nature and character that is above reproach. This, dear friends, shall be the abiding state of God's judges! Nevermore to fall from grace, these shall comprise an unimpeachable priesthood, sealed in their positions throughout the coming ages! Glory!
Beloved, the next time you feel like the pressures are too great, or that the probings are too personal, then stop for a moment, and consider the magnitude of our calling. Consider the permanence. Then realize that the sufferings of this present time, during the time of our confirmation hearings, are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. God is about to change the order, and eternally institute His son/judges before long! Then, we shall understand like never before why the hearings were necessary. If we did not suffer with Him, neither could we reign with Him! For after the process is complete, we shall be used of God to judge the world of men and angels (I Cor. 6:2-3), and provide the answers that the world is so desperately in need of? What a day of rejoicing that will be!
Dying Yet Living
If sin was crucified in Christ then what are all the unrighteous things we commit daily? Why do we still die? The flesh is obviously still heir to the rebellion in man. The apostle Paul wrote that flesh inherits flesh and spirit inherits spirit.
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law." (1 Cor 15:50-56).
We quarrel, are envious. We rob, kill and destroy. We are ungrateful and impatient. We relish in vengeance. We get sick; we curse; we worship idols. We die. We are of the flesh. We are earthy. Yet we shall not all sleep. Someone will be perfect in the flesh. Someone sometime will demonstrate the inheritance of the purity of Christ in the flesh to the extent that he shall not taste death of the flesh because the flesh shall have put on incorruption. Paul tells us that the only way someone will be able to do this is through the spiritual rebirth and continuous adherence to the spirit life which is obedience to the revelations from the Father. How can this possibly happen unless someone would already have cast down the importance of this world and considered it naught, that is, considered it an insubstantial thing that has no reality in value nor in substance. The flesh is a deceiver. It is able to tease you into thinking a thing good when it is evil by subtly suggesting that it is not so earth shattering to consider it.
A person who would pray to the Father for the gift of discernment that he might be able to hear in the spirit the words of the Father must be certain that it is pointless to be able to hear the voice of the Lord unless there is determination to obey it. Determination to obey the voice of God has no power unless the flesh has been crucified first. The flesh must die because it wars against the spirit. He who would live without death must first face the flesh as Christ faced it in the desert just before his ministry began.
Matthew 4:1-11 "Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered." (Here it can be likened to temptation of the flesh. If there is temptation of the flesh is there temptation of the spirit? When one is in the flesh, can one know the temptation of the spirit and follow it by casting the flesh aside?) And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Do you really think that man can exist without the essentials of the flesh just because God loves him? He answered him, Man cannot live just because he feeds himself.) But God will provide him the fruits of his righteousness, every bit of which he cannot live without. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness (II Cor 9:10). Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (If indeed you are in his protective hands, why abide by the laws of nature when nothing is supposed to harm you? Jesus answered him, The flesh cannot dictate to the spirit. On the contrary; the will of God must dictate the way of the flesh.)
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (If you follow after your flesh, give it what it wants, apply the principles of this world to your endeavors, you will find success. Jesus answered him: Be abased, flesh. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. You cannot serve two masters. You can only serve the one you worship. If you serve the flesh then you worship the flesh. If you serve the Lord, then you must worship him only.)
John the baptist recognized the Lord through the spirit of righteousness. (John 1:29 - The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.") The word sin, here is 'amartia', and is a direct derivative of the word witness, (martiras). What is the witness to the world? It is the flesh. The flesh is what was crucified in Christ. And again, what is the flesh? Can we call it sin? Everything the flesh wants is opposed to the spirit because the flesh is self-serving. But the spirit is humble and servant-minded, seeking to glorify God. Therefore to be mindful of the flesh is to be neglectful of the spirit, the two not being compatible.
It was once impossible to overcome the condemnation of the flesh (sin), except through the repetitious rituals of the law, with offerings and sacrifices. And then it was necessary to be subjected to whether or not you satisfied the law in its every detail, symbolic of perfection. The repetitiousness served to prove that we could not achieve the task of appeasement, thereby rendering our efforts futile...except for the promise that had been given to us by the Father God...the promise of the Messiah (the Anointed one). He would be anointed specifically to achieve the perfect effort of satisfying the law to deliver unto the Father the entire creation fully justified and not worthy of the wrath of condemnation. Salvation then was hoping (having faith) in the coming Saviour. Since Jesus, however, we no longer hope but are sure that we now have recourse to choose the spirit over the flesh already having been justified in the flesh through the perfect work of Christ. And it was the purity of his blood that would be shed as the price necessary to include creation in his name, that the Father might accept, as he would, all of us on his behalf. The blood that was shed for all men is representative of the dispensable value of the flesh. The perfection of Christ is representative of the spirit that deposes the flesh, and allows for us not to mind the failures in our path but to press on toward the mark of Christ regardless.
The pervasive tendency is to render the brand new car a huge disappointment when on the first day someone puts a ding on it. That is the tempter trying to tell the spirit to give up because it is a failure in the flesh. The car is still in fine working condition with that ding. The owner of the car must keep his eyes focused on the utility of the car or he will sure be rid of it. In the same way our flesh is the temple of the holy ghost and we must not so readily and easily cast away our responsibility to serve the Lord because we fail to measure up in our flesh. Rather we must learn with discipline to bring this flesh under subjection and make it serve the spirit, choosing the spirit each time during temptations, each time during decisions.
John 4:34 My meat (actually the word here is really food ) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. To the spirit, then, obedience is food. The righteous man cannot live without obedience to the word of God. The word of God can only come to the spirit by way of revelation from the spirit of God. Therefore to be about our Father's business is to develop ourselves continually in spiritual strength. It is either the strength of the spirit or the strength of the flesh. As easy as it is to write these words so difficult is it to walk them out. Yet I do know that the more we stay aware of the righteous people that we are, of the loving people that we are, of the kind people that we are, we will surely develop closer and closer to the day when we shall put on incorruption. Whether in this life or in another, it will be. Simply because it will be eventually does not diminish the importance to strive for it now. We are not here simply in order to exist. We are here to live and to live life in its fulness.
One cannot know the fulfilling satisfaction of living the spirit life if he
is juggling his mind between the spirit and the flesh. Without truly dying to
the flesh, a man cannot live a spiritual life. The first step in this death
of flesh is to enter in into the spirit of Christ and learn obedience from him.
It is not to be feared. It is to be yearned for. If you do not have the yearning
to be spiritual, you do not hunger after righteousness. Blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew
5:6) Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we
drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the
Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these
things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all
these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:31-33)
A Brief History Of The Church (1500 AD - Present)
The period of the Reformation was rich in personalities, events and institutions; involved factors which influenced the people of that era.
The Muslim Ottoman Turks became a political threat when they captured Gallipoli in 1354 and began their advance into Europe. Throughout the fifteenth century, they continued their career of conquest to the north and west. The reign of Sultan Mohammed II (1451 - 1481) died two years before the birth of Luther, and this sultan saw spectacular gains. Constantinople fell to him in 1453. In 1480, his forces made a landing at Otranto on the heel of Italy. All through Luther's lifetime, the Turks were a constant menace to the Church and Christianity. Emperor Charles V, facing the threat of the Turks, wanted the conflict between Luther and the Pope settled at the Diet of Worms. Charles was too concerned about the menace of the Turks to not attempt to get two Church factions to settle their differences and to unite again.
The Bubonic plague struck Europe in 1347 in an epidemic known as the Black Death. One out of three died in the Catholic West. One-third of the population was wiped out by this illness. Priests could barely keep up with the burials. One historian called fifteenth century Europe as a death-oriented society. The fear of the Turks and the fear of the plague were regarded by the popular preachers as the scourge of God to punish the failings of Catholicism.
Then Europe was finding new outlets for expansion overseas. Luther was five old when Diaz rounded the Cape of Good Hope; he was nine years old when Columbus discovered America; and fifteen years old when Vasco da Gama opened up the sea route to India. The voyages of Cabot, Cortes, Magellan and Pizarro were all in Luther's life span.
Nationalism and its consciousness began to emerge also about this time. Powerful monarchies ruled in three major countries -- England, Spain and France. A fourth re-birth called the Renaissance movement, began to sweep Europe with reviving an interest in the classics, arts and the hidden treasures of antiquity. This did much to prepare the "ground" for the new Reformation movement. Many thinkers of that day saw the need for a reform in the Roman Church. The Church was harmed by the neglect of its leaders, by the sexual immorality among the clergy, the materialism that prevailed in "high" circles and by the spiritual ignorance.
The Guttenberg revolution brought in printing on a large scale. About 1445, Guttenburg began to pioneer with movable metal type at Mainz in Germany. The first complete book known to have been printed in the Christian world was the Bible in 1456. The printing press was important in the early spread of the Reformation. The writings of Luther and Melanchthon reached a wide public in printed form within weeks and the writings were read in Paris and Rome. The writings of Eramus had a large effect in preparing the way for the Reformation also. Now the common person could begin to read works which opened their minds to the need for a reformed church. Hearts and minds were being prepared by God to be receptive to the new "thoughts" of the Reformers.
Another major breakthrough was the use of gun powder in the thirteenth century by Friar Roger Bacon of Oxford, England. This discovery changed war and added fuel to the rise of nationalism. There was a definite effect on the civilized world of that period, creating waves of discontent against a corrupt church and clergy. This indirectly helped the Reformation.
Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) led the European world for freedom from the despotic institution in history. He was born of poor parents at Eisleben, Germany in 1453. In 1501, he entered Erfurt University to study law. Being a good student, he gained his degree in a short time. In 1505, he decided to enter the monastery after he encountered lightning striking a tree close to him as he walked along a path on a rainy day. He cried out, "help, St. Anne, I will be a monk". He became an exemplary monk and was "very religious". He practiced fasting, scourgings, countless confessions and for two years endured such anguish that he once wrote, "no one can describe those days of anguish". In 1508 while Luther was reading the Epistle of Romans, his enlightenment came suddenly as he read the words, "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1;17). Peace came into his soul and life was changed. Luther wrote these words, "THE ONE EXPRESSION, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, IS THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS WHEREBY THROUGH GRACE AND SHEER MERCY, GOD JUSTIFIES US BY FAITH. THEREUPON I WAS BORN AGAIN AND TO HAVE GONE THROUGH THE DOORS INTO PARADISE." In 1508, Luther became a professor at the University at Wittenberg, which position he held until the time of his death. In 1511, he went to Rome, hoping to find a city of purity, righteousness and spiritual power. Instead, he found Rome to be so corrupt that it appalled him. Returning to Wittenberg, his sermons on the Bible began to attract students from all parts of Germany. He received his doctorate at this time also; Doctor of Theology. From his "tower" experience in 1508 to 1517, Luther accepted the usages of the Church, Masses, relics, pilgrimages and the papal hierarchy.
As a professor, Luther was a Pastor also, and he combined both professions well. Coming home one night, Luther encountered a parishioner lying in a ditch in a drunken condition. Luther rebuked the man. Therefore the drunkened parishioner produced a paper declaring that his "sin" of being drunkened was forgiven. Luther was shocked and asked the man where he got the paper of his "forgiveness'. The man told Luther of a papal delegate selling this indulgence in the city by the name of John Tetzel. Indulgences were begun in 817 by Pope Pascal I. This indulgence was to lighten the time spent in purgatory for sins committed which need purging before a person could enter Heaven. Indulgences were found to be profitable and soon came into general use. Leo X needed to rebuild the Vatican and so used indulgences to gain money for the purpose of major construction. Hence the arrival of Tetzel into the community of Martin Luther. He was horrified when he heard that the slogan by Tetzel was, "as soon as your coin clinks into the chest, the souls of your friends will rise out of purgatory in Heaven." On October 31 (eve of All Saints Day), Hallow eve, 1517, Luther nailed 95 theses (statements) on the door of the Wittenberg Church. Nearly all of them related to the indulgences of the papacy. But in substance Luther struck at the authority of the papacy. All that Luther wanted to do was to let interested parties know that he was willing to discuss these issues at the University. But the printed copies were eagerly sought all over Germany. These copies were the "spark" that set Europe aflame! Tract after tract followed -- Latin for the scholars and German for the common person. But Luther was a most popular man in Europe by the year 1520.
In 1519, Luther had a disputation at Leipzig with John Eck, his sharpest opponent. During this exchange, Luther made two major blunders according to his opponent, the Latin church. Luther denied the supremacy of the pope and Luther questioned the infallibility of the general councils. The pope issued a papal bull (order) to recant his statements. Luther burned the papal statement (bull) on December 10, 1520, publicly. Excommunication finally came in 1521. Summoned by Charles V, Luther went to the city of Worms to explain his writings and his actions. There at Worms, Luther was ordered to recant all that he had written. His famous statement, "unless I am convinced by Scripture, I cannot and I will not recant..... here i stand..... I can do no otherwise..... God help me." Luther was condemned and was to be hunted as a criminal and killed. His friends hid him for about nine months. During that time, he translated the New Testament from Latin into German at the Wartburg Castle. His protection was Frederick of Saxony.
The pope began a war against German Protestants. Each state was ruled by a prince. Many of these states were Lutheran, all of Northern Germany was Lutheran, eventually spilling over into Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other countries and states. These states formed a defense called the Smalcald League and after the pope declared a war -- called a crusade -- against these Lutheran states, peace came in 1555. The crusade against these Protestants lasted from 1546 to 1555, ending with the Peace of Augsburg. The term, Protestant, came in 1529 when Lutheran princes made formal protest the Catholics who wanted Catholic teaching in Lutheran providences but would forbid Lutheran teaching in Catholic states in Germany.
In Switzerland, reform was started by Zwingli and carried on by John Calvin. The union of their followers constituted the "Reformed Church" in 1549. Their reforms were more sweeping than Luther's. Zwingli (1484 - 1531) was convinced in 1516 that the Bible was the means by which to purify the Church. In 1525, Zurich accepted his teachings and the churches in that city began to abolish gradually indulgences, the Mass, celibacy, sacraments and to make the Bible the sole rule of faith and practice.
John Calvin (1509 - 1564) was a Frenchman who accepted the teachings of the Reformation in 1533. Driven out of France in 1534, he went to Geneva, Switzerland in 1536. There his academy became the pivotal center of Protestantism, attracting scholars from many lands. He is called the greatest theologian of Christendom. He guided the thinking of the Reformation, Calvin's Institutes (Institutes of the Christian Religion), is considered the greatest theological work of the Reformation. Calvin was extremely logical in his thinking and molded doctrines of the Reformed Church. Calvin and his friend, Farel, tried to set up a community on a theocratic basis. Outlawing activities such as drunkenness, gambling, dancing and the like had little effect on the city. Calvin proposed that unrepentant communicants be excommunicated, but the profligate population banished the Reformers. Calvin went to Strasbourg where he was united with his reformer friend, Martin Bucer. Calvin married a widow at Strasbourg and was the Pastor of a congregation made up of French refugees. Later friends urged Calvin to return to Geneva where he stayed for the rest of his life. He dominated the city with his strict discipline over the morals of the city. He drew up a new form of government and liturgy for the Church. He was responsible for a system of universal education for the young and programs to take care of the poor and aged. His academy later became the University of Geneva.
By no means did all those who broke with Rome agree with Zwingli, Luther or Calvin for that matter. As early as 1523 in Zurich, Grebel and Manz questioned a number of teachings and practices of Romanism and began to insist on adult baptism. For this, they were persecuted and many of their followers were exiled. The movement spread to Germany and Moravia. In time, the term Anabaptist was applied by Lutherans, Zwinglians, Roman Catholics and others to those who would not fellowship with any of these communions; who rejected a connection between church and state, who rejected infant baptism or who insisted on re-baptism later in life. They were described as the "left" wing of the Reformation or the radical Reformationists. The doctrinal position of the Anabaptists is related to the modern Mennonite position and the Baptist Church.
While the Reformers were united in making the Bible the sole basis for instruction, they differ in various interpretations. Luther kept a "high" church. He removed from the Mass those items which he considered to be anti-Scriptural, but retaining elements he felt were essential. The sermon became the focal point of the worship service. Luther kept two Sacraments instead of seven. Baptism and Holy Communion were Sacraments which were instituted by Christ and to be "means of Grace" to the Communicant. The Calvinists and Zwinglians were more "low" churchly, the "ordinances" were Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Infant baptism was retained by the Lutheran and Reformed Churches. Holy Communion to the Reformed Church was symbolic -- that Christ encounters His people by the power of the Spirit's presence in their hearts. Christ's Body is "in Heaven" and thus only that Spirit's presence is encountered at the Holy Communion. Luther believed in the "real presence" of Jesus. Lutherans speak of the "ubiquity" or the multipresence of Jesus' glorified flesh to be received by the communicant. Thus Christ comes to the communicant "through, in and under" the elements -- His Body and His Blood. Calvin and Luther believed in predestination, but Calvin drove the point to a extreme degree when he believed in "double" predestination -- either saved or damned.
Some historians date modern Roman Catholic theology from this Council. The Roman Church reeling from the effects of the Reformation had to declare a formula of faith to offset the accusations of the Reformers. This council re-affirmed its belief in the Nicene Creed and then established 12 major articles of faith. A catechism came also from this council. This catechism contained the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and Sacraments. This council believed in the validity of the Seven Sacraments, Sacraments bestowing merit on the believer (necessity of some of them for salvation), value of tradition as a basis of authority with the Bible, canonicity of the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, existence of purgatory, value of images, indulgences, invocation of the saints, and importance of confession to a priest. Some believe that the Catholic Church used this council to solidify its defense against the Reformers.
The Council of Trent was Rome's first answer to the Reformation. The second was the Inquisition. This medieval Inquisition was revived in the sixteenth century especially in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. In Italy and Spain the effects of the Inquisition was successful in extirpating the movement. However, in the Netherlands, Protestantism triumphed there. The Protestants under William of Orange began to revolt and in 1609 won their independence. The Scandinavian countries were introduced to Lutheranism and became the State Religion, in Denmark in 1536, Sweden in 1539 and Norway in 1540. A hundred years later Gustavus Adolphus (1611 - 1632), King of Sweden, crushed Rome's effort to destroy Protestant Germany.
The Jesuits (Society of Jesus) was the third aspect of the counter-Reformation. Founded in Paris in 1534 by Ignatius Loyola, this order demanded slavish obedience of all its members for the furtherance of the interests of the Roman Church. They were totally unscrupulous in their methods, holding that it was permissible to do evil if good would come of it. The "ends justify the means" was their slogan. While the Inquisition could win back individuals where the Reformation had slight effect, the Jesuits set up schools to convert the minds of the populace, would infiltrate governmental office or use any means, fair or foul, to advance the cause of the Church. Their power became too great for even the pope and the papacy suppressed the order from 1773 - 1814.
In France, Luther's teachings had penetrated much of that land. Calvin soon followed with his influence. The Reformation entered France in 1520. By 1559, there were 400,000 Protestants. They were called "Huguenots". Their piety and purity were in contrast to the scandalous lives of the clergy. In 1557, the Pope, Pius, urged their destruction. The king ordered their massacre and ordered loyal subjects to help in hunting them out. The Jesuits went through France persuading the faithful to bear arms for destroying these "heretics". On August 24, 1572, 70,000 Huguenots were killed in that night. Rome rejoiced and the pope with his cardinals went to their church and sang the Te Deum in thanksgiving. This is known as the St. Bartholomew's massacre. The Huguenots resisted and armed for battle. In 1598, by Edict of Nantes, they were granted freedom of worship. But 200,000 had perished by this time all by order of popes in the Name of God.
In Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and even in Italy, the Reformation was getting a real hold in the hearts of the people. But in all of these countries after the Inquisition and Jesuits did their "dirty" work, the Reformation was suppressed and these countries remained within the Roman fold.
The Thirty Years closes the Reformation period. This was a blood-bath when conflicts embroiled three antagonisms into one war. Protestants versus Roman Catholics in Germany, emperor versus princes in the Holy Roman Empire and France versus the Haspburgs for the domination of Europe. The Thirty Year War started as a religious war, it ended as a political war with deaths of 10,000,000 to 20,000,000. Jesuit-educated Ferdinand II started it with the purpose of crushing Protestantism. It ended with the Peace of Westphalia, 1648, which fixed the lines between the Romanist and Protestant states.
In England, it was revolt and then reform. From the days of William the Conqueror, 1066, there had been repeated protests against papal control of England. Henry VIII (1509 - 1547) believed as his predecessors had that the English Church should be independent of Rome. The king should be the head of the Church. In 1534, the Church of England repudiated papal authority. The spiritual direction was under the direct control of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry VIII assumed the title, "Supreme Head" of the Church. Thomas Cranmer was archbishop and began reform. Monasteries were abolished on grounds of immorality, English Bibles were placed in the churches and a Prayer Book for services in English and churches were stripped of many Roman practices. From England came the King James Bible and the Puritans and Methodists. England was instrumental in promotion of the Scripture and sending forth of many missionaries into territories ruled by them.
The age of reason, revival and revolution came next. Towards the end of the 17th century, George Fox and Philip Spener were "shining" lights. George Fox experienced the "inner light" in 1646 and he began a forth year ministry of itinerant preaching. This Englishman was the founder of the Quaker movement. Spener was the leader in the German Pietism movement. His co-worker was A.H. Francke. They set up schools, orphanages, widow's homes at Halle, Germany. This inner light movement in various parts of Europe was a reaction to the cold orthodoxy which permeated many state churches. About this time, John Bunyon wrote his Pilgrims Progress from his prison cell. The Moravian Church was formed about 1725. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was founded in the early 1700's. Dr. Thomas Bray was its founding father. This society worked among the blacks and Indians primarily. The Moravians were highly energetic in missionary endeavors. This group dates back to John Hus and his testimony. About this time, Count Zinzendorf had great influence on the group and with his wealth was able to give vital support to the ministry of that Church. The Count's huge estate became one of the institutions housing many exiles from Bohemia and Moravia. The Count was interested in world evangelization as well as establishing international fellowship with true believers of various religious bodies.
Revivalist Jonathan Edwards was the father of the Great Awakening during the 18th century in America. Under Edwards, revival broke out in his parish at Northampton, Massachusetts in 1734. From that parish other revival fires spread in various directions. Whitfield, a friend of the Wesleys, began his American tour in 1739 and preached with great success. Hindered from pulpits, he took to the fields and crowds of a few thousand came to hear his messages. At times, 20,000 people would come to his service; he would preach without any benefit of electronic loud speakers.
John Wesley who came into "assurance" of salvation and was an earnest seeker of truth. For years, he had applied rules to attain spiritual growth, but to no avail. With his methods of spiritual attainment, he and his brother, Charles, were known as the Methodist club. But it was at Aldersgate, England, that as he heard the preface written by Luther to the Book of Romans, that Wesley felt that soft inner glow and God's life. Wesley was a changed man. Shut out from the Anglican Church, Wesley took his cue from Whitfield and went to the outdoors to preach. His theology was Arminian; Whitfield was Calvinistic. Wesley set up societies within the Anglican Church which in turn became the formation of the Methodist Church. In the year of 1800, the Methodist Church separated from the Church of England. Wesley single-handedly kept England from the French Revolution, and did much to deal with the social ills of England. Spiritually, the Methodist Church did much to combat deism in England. (Deism means not having God involved in one's life). Wesley lived to be 89 years old; he nearly preached daily and he rode an estimated 250,000 miles on horseback preaching the Gospel.
Modern missions were formed at this time with the advent of William Carey going to India in 1792. Carey, a shoemaker, prayed daily for God to open up missions and his going out was the signal to inspire others to do the same. Adoniram Judson, David Livingston, C.T. Studd, Hudson Taylor (founder of the China Inland Mission in 1866) and others opened whole areas for others to follow in their footprints. Many Mission Societies sprung up and interest in bringing the Gospel throbbed in the hearts of many. Mentioned at this time was William Booth, the one who founded the Salvation Army. Going into the ghettos, to the down trodden, the poor, the outcasts, went this man and his loyal troops. Preaching the Gospel, setting up soup kitchens, providing housing for the homeless, this movement has a tremendous effect on London, the rest of England and truly, the world.
Two American men who stood out at the 19th Century were Charles Finney and D. L Moody. The time of their ministry is called the second awakening in America. With revived interest in the Bible, the American Bible Society was founded at this time, too. At the beginning of the 20th Century, major developments took place. The Edinburgh World Missionary Conference which began plans to invade Moslem territory and to go into new regions was a signal attempt to do great things for God. The modern Pentecost movement began in about 1906 in California. This scorned movement has grown into a mighty force today. World War I did much to disillusion many theologians who thought that the world was getting better and that we were in a state of millennial bliss. Man realized that he could not by his own efforts bring in that "promised age".
World War II did much to have an effect upon the church. Modern movements like the Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth for Christ, Inter-Varsity, Child Evangelism, Christian radio stations, television stations (700 Club), Bible Schools, Wycliff Translators, Gideons, host of Christian magazines, Billy Graham Crusades, World Vision, plus a host of other ministries have done much to reach countless souls for Christ in our day. Roman Catholicism has been affected, too. Recent councils has shaken the foundation of that Church. Protestants have been merging to form new denominations. And, as we look to the future, we realize that many changes will take place even to challenge our imagination -- but for the believer -- as Judson once proclaimed to his tormentors -- "THE FUTURE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE PROMISES OF GOD." God has promised never to leave us or forsake us -- and with that hope, we must be incurable optimists -- knowing that the best is yet to come.
................. Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen
Lord you must look down
from your glorious throne
so proud of your servant that
you call him your own.
So obedient your servant gives
you only his best
and you return it with love
peace and rest.
He has no fear of the future
for he's given it all to you
knowing you'll manifest your perfect
will in all he'll ever do.
You said in your word that
there would be those who would
walk so close to thee
that when we look into their
eyes it is you Lord,
that we would really see.
......Sara Morida Yex